The mythos of Superman has been circulating the planet Earth for more than 50 years now. And besides the first form, a comic book, that gave us this super-powered Kryptonian, there have been numerous television shows, movies and other forms of media to Earth’s best Boy Scout. The most recent sojourn into his mighty mythology comes in the form of the WB and later CW’s “Smallville.”
In this series, Superman is hardly more than a Superboy as he learns about his journey to our world, his powers and his destiny. A show long on charisma and special effects, it still exhibits signs of greatness in what is its eighth and possibly final season. The series was smart and well-written enough to go soaring into people’s imaginations, but didn’t truly start picking up until Season Two after the producers let the meteor freaks of Season One go. This Top 10 chronicles some of the best episodes, which include penultimate moments, new characters, shocking revelations and in a few cases shocking endings. There could be many arguments as to why this episode or that episode is better – so in fairness to the readers, the episodes are ranked in chronological order by appearance rather than by 10th to first. Editors note: This list was written November 4, 2008.
“Heat” – Season Two, Episode 2
In this scorcher, Smallville High School sophomore Clark Kent first exhibits his heat vision while daydreaming about his steamy new biology teacher during a sex-ed video. After the school is evacuated due to the fire he starts, Clark sets a few more fires before he and Jonathan Kent finally work out how Clark must control his heat … vision. The very same biology teacher happens to be a meteor freak after Lex Luthor’s money.
Why it made the list: Every teenager has inappropriate thoughts some times, but Clark’s tend to have some dire consequences. However, what better way to introduce heat vision than by getting him all hot and bothered.
“Rosetta” – Season Two, Episode 17
In one of many crossover episodes from the Superman movies of the 70s and 80s, Christopher Reeves guest stars as a Stephen Hawking-esque recluse, Dr. Virgil Swann, who has been searching for the last son of Krypton. Clark learns to read Kryptonian when the hexagonal key forces him to the Kawatche Caves where he is bathed in red, yellow and blue light as the ability to read Kryptonian is transferred into him. Clark fries the Kryptonian glyph for Hope into the side of his folks’ barn, which prompts Swann to contact him. Swann, a world-renowned physicist and astronomer, received a message 13 years earlier from Krypton and had been able to decipher it with a mathematical key, but followed the message to its origins to only learn that Krypton was no more. Clark learns two things from this episode – his home world is gone and that his biological father, Jor El, intends him to rule as a god among men.
Why it made the list: This is the first time that Clark really gets a good idea of who he is and where he came from. It also nicely sets up the next two season’s worth of episodes as he truly begins his journey of discovering his past.
“Crusade” – Season Four, Episode 1
Kal El has been sent back to Earth after being taken by Jor El at the end of the third season. Except he is a no holds barred Kryptonian who is on a mission to find the three stones, which will give ultimate knowledge to their possessor once united. Unfortunately for Clark, Martha must use black Kryptonite to separate him and his somewhat-villainous alter ego. At the same time, Lana Lang touches a tombstone in Paris revealing her ancestral link to a witch from the Middle Ages who was also bent on finding the stones.
Why it made the list: Alfred Gough and Miles Millar had a “no flights, no tights” rule from Day One about the series. In this season opening episode, the no flight rule is broken with dazzling effects. Another reason it made the list is that this episode launched the first step toward creating the Fortress of Solitude as well as this was the first time that Lois Lane meets Clark Kent.
“Sacred” – Season Four, Episode 15
Not only is Isobel Thoreaux, Lana’s ancestral witch mother, coming back to wreak havoc with Smallville residents by looking for the Crystals of Power, but Lex is looking for the crystals as well as Clark. All three converge on China where the second stone was found with the help of an ancient map. In this episode, we see the villainy that Lex will stoop to by having himself and Jason Teague tortured in order to find out where the map was. We also learn that Clark’s weaknesses include not only hot women and Kryptonite, but also magic as he and a re-incarnated Isobel, in Lana’s body, duke it out for the crystal.
Why it made the list: We see just how far the rabbit hole goes with the plot twists and threading the multiple arcs together. This was a masterfully crafted episode that showed Lana and Clark fighting for the first time!
“Reckoning” – Season Five, Episode 12
Choose wisely. If only Clark had a third option, this episode features a time-travelling twist as Clark tells Lana of his secret for the first time and asks her to marry him. But when in a drunken stupor, Lex finds out about her impending nuptials, he flies into a rage and eventually forces her off the road and into an accident, which kills her. After Clark begs for the choice to be taken back by Jor El, he tells Clark that fate cannot be thwarted and that things may not happen again as Clark wants. In round two, Jonathan after learning he won the Kansas Senatorial election receives a phone call from Lionel who wants to talk to him. It turns out to be a violent confrontation between them and Jonathan dies shortly afterwards.
Why it made the list: This was the 100th episode and boy did it go off with a bang. Lose Lana or lose your father – Clark wasn’t given an option, but we knew something was up with this episode. Another masterful script and superb acting make this a truly memorable episode.
“Zod” – Season Six, Episode 1
Zod may have been Jor El’s greatest enemy on Krypton, but with Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal of the evil general, we see that he was also a bit psychotic. “Zod” opens Season Six with Zod, inhabiting Lex’s body, trying to take over the world and make it over as a new Krypton after Braniac had disabled all communications and electrical services with a computer virus at the end of Season Five. Meanwhile, Clark is stuck in the Phantom Zone until he finds a woman who tells him that he can get out because he is of the House of El. However, by leaving, he also releases a number of phantoms, criminals from across the 28 known galaxies, which sets up the story arc for the new season. After being released from the zone and in possession of a crystal that will return the zoners where they belong, Clark goes after Zod/Lex and strips Zod out of Lex, putting the general back in the Phantom Zone.
Why this made the list: The Phantom Zone and Zod making the last son of Krypton kneel before him. Movie and DC fans alike were having fits of geektastic glory.
“Justice” – Season Six, Episode 11
The Justice League finally unites in live action, in a respectable form, on screen for the first time. Under the Green Arrow’s tutelage, Impulse, aka a young Flash, has become a valued member of a team that fights against Lex Luthor and his evil experiments with Level 33.1. However, young Bart is captured and it’s up to the team of Clark, Green Arrow, Aquaman and Cyborg to break him out, while simultaneously destroying the complex.
Why it made the list: This episode was the culmination of DC superhero character crossovers in the Smallville Universe. Though Impulse, Aquaman, Cyborg and Green Arrow were all introduced before this episode, it was this episode that truly showed what they could do. Now let’s just hope the next time, they have a better target than a building of human guards.
“Bizarro” – Season Seven, Episode 1
Another DC crossover character, Bizarro is the anti-Superman. He grows stronger with exposure to Kryptonite, is weakened by the yellow sun and just hates living things, specifically Clark. At the end of Season Six, we see Clark go up against the final Phantom Zoner, who steals some of his Kryptonian DNA to become corporeal. With that the two duke it out destroying Reeves Dam, which also releases Clark’s cousin Kara from suspended animation in her spaceship under the lake. At the same time, we learn of Chloe’s ability as a metahuman who can heal – by shedding a tear on Lois, she brought her back to life as she went into a lifeless coma to recover. Clark does defeat Bizarro with the help of the yellow sun draining Bizarro’s powers and then the Martian Manhunter taking him to the sunlight side of Mars.
Why it made the list: This was the introduction of Kara to Season Seven as well as the true revelation of who Bizarro was. However, it is later revealed that Bizarro switches places with Clark, kindling a true relationship with Lana where Clark could not.
“Descent” – Season Seven, Episode 16
Like father, like son. Lex finally becomes a clone of his father’s evil youth, by killing Lionel in “Descent.” Aptly titled, this episode shows just how far Lex has descended into his misguided evil as he tries to piece together the Veritas Society pieces and thinks he will save the world from the Traveller, aka Clark. This episode features some fine acting and shows how Clark had truly come to respect and admire Lionel for all that he had done in the later years of their acquaintance.
Why it made the list: Rosenbaum’s epic acting as he just loses it – nuff said.
“Identity” – Season Eight, Episode 7
Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow, must return the favor to Clark by posing as a heroic figure to throw Jimmy Olsen off. Jimmy was trying to take a picture of Lois’s mugger as she struggled with him and instead got a red and blue blur as Clark knocks the mugger out and saves Lois from an oncoming SUV. After Jimmy exposes the picture, Tess Mercer, the acting CEO of Luthor Corps and the Daily Planet, wants Jimmy and Clark to find out who this mystery saviour is. While Clark balks, Chloe tries to tell him that people need a hero. Clark, Chloe and Oliver set up an elaborate hoax to get Jimmy off of Clark’s back, but he then realizes that maybe people knowing about what he is trying to do is not so bad.
Why it made the list: This is the first episode where he starts to accept his true Boy Scout nature in wanting to help people and realizing that keeping his existence a secret is not necessary, only his secret identity.
Honourable Mention: “Asylum” – Season Three, Episode 9
Possibly the best of the meteor freak episodes, “Asylum” features three of the Belle Reve inmates put there by Clark. Clark regrets the decision by Lionel Luthor to give his son shock therapy to cure his “insanity” and decides to put a stop to it. However, Van, Ian and Eric hatch a plan to steal Clark’s powers and get out of Belle Reve. Their plans are foiled as usual by Clark, but not before Lex loses a good portion of his memories due to the shock therapy.